Dora Clark, the Mini Midwife writes about her first trip off the YWAM base.
I walked along side of my family, up the short hill to the entrance of the Youth With A Mission base where we currently live. We were headed for the first time to the nearby village called Kakira. I started thinking what will Kakira look like? Will it be poor? How poor?
The road is long and winding, made of red dirt. Corn is all we see, and mountains. I am tired and hot, this elevation takes it out of you. I look to the right and see that we’re higher than I thought. No wonder I am tired. There are big orange colored puddles on the ground. I try to dodge them, but the recent rains have made everything slippery. Boda- Boda’s (otherwise known as motorcycles) rush around us. There are no traffic laws here really and the “right of way” does not exist for people walking. Sometimes the Bodas almost take Liesel with them or nearly run into her as she dodges out of the way.
We stop to take a family photo, how strange we must look to the black people who are slowly walking past, staring at us. You know, we are just some white people just standing on the side of the road taking pictures with a very expensive camera. We have to take this quick because cars drive by and again we are big white targets. After pictures, (this takes a little while) we continue walking. Corn, corn, corn, and guess what? CORN!
After what seems like one hour we start seeing houses, but that means there is ten more minutes until we get to town. Children are playing outside when we start hearing them shout, “Mzungu! Mzungu!” Mzungu means white person in Luganda. We smile and wave, smile and wave, like royalty. They pour out everywhere, in all various stages of dress (or undress, as it were) The place smells, don’t breath through your nose, I have to tell myself. Everywhere there are colorful buildings and no white people besides us for miles around it seems. I long to play with the children; it looks like they are playing with sticks and make-believe. I should keep with my family because those who know me will know that I will just keep playing with children and never come home.
I hold out my hand for one of the children to grab. A boy with a red ripped shirt comes to my side. His smile spreads from ear to ear; it looks like he is gloating as he looks back to his friends. Not long after children begin to follow us, chattering away in a language I do not have any hope of understanding. People look at us with strange expressions; but when I smile they smile back. People are also selling things outside, no food though, just dirty, used clothing. We walk to a small shop to buy a soda for our lunch. We definitely can’t fit in this shack so we stand outside. There are two boys behind the counter. They look to be about 10 or 12 with no adult in sight.
After buying our glass bottles of soda pop, we walk through the mud into a very small, crowded, passage way filled with shack-like looking shops. They look more like lemonade stands than shops. There is an awning with MEAT hanging from the tin roof of the wooden shop. On the dirty wooden shelf, there is various cuts of meat just lying there, baking in the African sun. Behind the shelf, there is a man with a large knife hacking away at some beef on a very dirty stump. We squeeze past him and the flies buzz around. On the concrete next to him is a man cooking something on a large metal drum that smells delicious. Is this where we’re going to get lunch? Apparently we are eating a kind of breakfast burrito called a “Rollex”. It is made with chapatti, an Indian flatbread and vegetables and eggs cooked inside.
We wait patiently for our rollexs amidst the stares of the locals. My Dad asks my Mom to go find some laundry soap in the “shops” nearby. I bounce up and down, volunteering my services to escort her. We squeeze past the meat man and his hanging merchandise. We walk past more brightly colored stores. I look at people who do not look very friendly. We get many stares and not many smiles. We dodge the muddy places, puddles, and people.
We walk through an open gate where there are lots more people. We begin to ask where there might be laundry soap. They don’t understand the word laundry. No wonder they keep shaking their heads! So we ask for clothes soap, pantomiming washing clothes by hand. At this point, they gesture towards a shop where women are standing. We ask them for clothes soap they shake their heads no. We are very confused because this is the shop that we were shown. We walk around the shop where there are bars on the window. We ask for clothes soap again even though this seems like the same shop we were in just the other side of it. This time a nice man says to the person in the shop “Omo” and the store man hands him some laundry soap! The man hands it to us. We give the store man money, “Thank you! Thank you!” we tell him. It seems as if there is very few places that you can walk in and get what you want in Uganda. Most places you have to ask for the product by name.
We head back to our lunch, again dodging chickens, mud and staring people. As we’re nearing the breakfast burrito place we walk past another meat man, his meat is a gray color. It does not look good at all. We find our family sitting on the concrete and eating. I take a bite of my Rollex; I think I am tasting heaven. YUM! This is delicious!
Normally, every meal we have had in Uganda is posho, which tastes like a flavorless sponge, some thin spaghetti noodles with no sauce, and beans. That’s it, so this was a big treat. For once, I am stuffed afterwards.
Then it’s time to go home, so we decide to get a taxi. The taxis are long buses that are always packed full of people before they will leave. It took a while for people to load in it, so Zoe took that opportunity to take photos of the village. Finally the bus seems full, but we didn’t move. Then, two more people squeeze in- a mother and little girl. The mother squeezed in the second row and the little girl on my mother’s lap. Things sure get cozy here in Africa.
We left KaKira, with full stomachs, crammed into hot dirty vans and a whole new way of life to ponder.